The history of the Indian independence movement revolves around Mahatma Gandhi in a way. Although many revolutionaries and freedom fighters contributed to the freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi forced the British government to leave India through a different experiment (non-violence). In this blog, we will read about the Role of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian National Movement and Non-violence.
History of Colonialism in India
Before the colonial era in India, the country was a highly prosperous nation, divided into several kingdoms ruled by powerful Hindu and Islamic dynasties. India was known worldwide as a prosperous nation and the grandeur of Indian kings, palaces, art, and architecture was unmatched in the rest of the world. The country was also rich in natural resources with fertile land, abundant water resources, and diverse wildlife. Thus, India had everything to do to try to gain control of this “lots of land” to attract colonists from Europe.
Europeans’ entry into the country began with the establishment of the spice trade in the 1400s when several European countries established trading posts and colonial cities in the country. Portugal, the Dutch Republic, Denmark, France, and England all had a significant presence in the country beginning in the 1400s (Portugal). However, it was England that had the longest power in the country. After 1858, the British took over colonial power after taking over from the East India Company, which had been ruling since 1757.
Using the policies of “divide and rule”, the British gradually gained control of the entire country. The British colonists emptied the Indian treasury and treated Indians with contempt. However, some of the positive aspects of British rule included improvement in the infrastructural facilities in India.
No one is willing to sacrifice their independence at any cost, and so the Indians began their 200-year-long fight against the British colonialists. In a way, British rule helped Indians to unite in a unified struggle for independence. Forgetting all differences of age, gender, religion, language, and caste, Indians from all corners of the country gathered to fight the well-equipped and cunning forces of the colonists.
Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent methods
Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps the most widely recognized figure in the Indian nationalist movement for his role in the non-violent civil uprising. He first took a non-violent approach in South Africa, where he was working as an expatriate lawyer. He was hurt and angry when he saw discrimination and exploitation of people of color under white rule. He organizes non-violent protests in the country which earned him fame and support from the people of South Africa.
Back in India, he decided to employ his newly learned methods of civil protest in his homeland, staggeringly to gain independence from British rule. The first point of his dissatisfaction with the British colonialists was the excessive taxes imposed on Indian citizens. He organized the working class as well as those living in poverty to protest against high taxes and social discrimination.
In 1921, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress, a nationalist political party in India that advocated non-discriminatory laws, equal rights for men and women, peaceful inter-religious relations, the overthrow of the caste system, and, above all, the demand for Indian Of. Independence. During his lifetime, Gandhi carried out three major nationalist movements which are discussed below.
The first of the Gandhi-led movements, the Non-Cooperation Movement, lasted from September 1920 to February 1922. During this movement, Gandhi believed that the British were successful in retaining control only because the Indians were allies. If the residents of a country stop cooperating with the British, the minority British will be forced to give up.
The movement gained popularity, and soon, millions of people were boycotting British-run or cooperative establishments. This meant that people quit their jobs, threw their children out of schools, and were away from government offices. The name Mahatma Gandhi became popular. However, the non-cooperation movement came to an end when a violent mob broke out at Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh. The people involved set a police station on fire, in which 23 police officers died. Gandhi halted the movement, sticking to his stand on nonviolent protest.
Dandi March, Civil Disobedience and Salt Satyagraha
The sudden cessation of the non-cooperation movement did nothing to stop the quest for independence. On March 12, 1930, protesters took part in the Dandi March, a campaign designed to protest taxes and the British monopoly on salt. Gandhi began a journey of 24 days, 240 miles with 79 followers and ended with thousands. When the protesters reached the coastal city of Dandi, they produced salt from salt water without paying British tax.
Civil disobedience was carried out throughout the country with this act. The Dandi group continued to move south along the coast, producing salt along the way. Gandhi gave speeches about the inhumanity of the salt tax and staged the Salt Satyagraha as a struggle for the poor.
Gandhi was arrested by the British authorities before the group reached the Dharasana Salt Works. The movement led to almost a year of civil disobedience, illegal salt production and purchase, boycott of British goods, refusal to pay taxes, and imprisonment of about 80,000 Indians. The movement attracted national and international attention and increased the number of Gandhi’s followers, however, it failed to earn any concessions from the British.
Quit India Movement
The Quit India Movement started on 8 August 1942 during the Second World War. At Gandhi’s insistence, the Indian Congress Committee called for a massive British withdrawal and Gandhi delivered a “do or die” speech. The British authorities acted quickly and arrested almost every member of the Indian National Congress party.
England made some concessions to Indian demands with a new prime minister, such as the right to create an independent provincial constitution, which was to be granted after the war; They were not accepted. The nation once again entered into massive civil disobedience, marked by anti-war speeches and refusal to aid the war effort. This movement gave the British the idea that they might be unable to maintain control over India.
The price of freedom
India finally got independence from British rule on 15 August 1947. However, independence came at a great cost. Hindus and Muslims, who fought side by side against a united enemy, now had to part ways. On 3 June 1947, the British rulers proposed an act to separate British India into India and Pakistan. The Act was approved on August 14, 1947. Thus, the hard work, sacrifice and will of the Indians brought India independence from British rule. However, as soon as the British left India, they created a great divide between India and Pakistan, dividing the British Raj on the basis of religion.
Nationalist Movement in India: Role of Mahatma Gandhi and His Nonviolent Methods
Nationalist Movement Dates
1- non-cooperation movement from September 1920 to February 1922
2 -Dandi March, Civil Disobedience Movement and Salt Satyagraha from 12 March 1930 to 5 April 1930 (Salt Satyagraha)
3- Quit India Movement August 8, 1942, till independence